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8/13/2005

The Sheehan alternative

From Antiwar.com:
In 1972, after many years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote: "In that time, I have seen it first as a problem; then as a stalemate; then as a crime."

That aptly describes three key American perspectives now brought to bear on US involvement in Iraq.

The moral clarity and political impacts of Cindy Sheehan’s vigil in Crawford are greatly enhanced by a position that she is taking: US troops should not be in Iraq.

Sheehan’s position does not only clash directly with President Bush’s policy, which he reiterated on Thursday ... Her call for complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq also amounts to a firm rejection of the ongoing stance from Howard Dean, the head of the national Democratic Party, who told a Minneapolis audience on April 20: "Now that we’re there, we’re there and we can’t get out."

...Dean, the Democratic National Committee chair, has opted to stick to a calibrated partisan line of attack that endorses the essence of the war in real time. "The president has created an enormous security problem for the US where none existed before," Dean said in Minneapolis. "But I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he’s there."

Of course, the idea that Bush could be "incredibly successful with his policy now" in Iraq is the stuff of fantasy. But it’s the kind of politician-speak that makes a preposterous statement because it seems like a good media tactic. That’s what most Democratic Party officials on the national stage, and some activists who should know better, are still doing. They’re the rough equivalent of those who, like Ellsberg for a time four decades ago, mainly regretted that the war was "a stalemate." Objections to the war along that line depict it as a quagmire.

But the US war effort in Iraq is not a quagmire. It is what Daniel Ellsberg came to realize the Vietnam War was: "a crime."

...While Bush sees the war as a problem and Dean bemoans it as a stalemate, Sheehan refuses to evade the truth that it is a crime. And the analysis that came from Daniel Ellsberg in 1972, while the Vietnam War continued, offers vital clarity today: "Each of these perspectives called for a different mode of personal commitment: a problem, to help solve it; a stalemate, to help extricate ourselves with grace; a crime, to expose and resist it, to try to stop it immediately, to seek moral and political change."
Cindy Sheehan for President?

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